Evolutionary roots of the risk of hip fracture in humans

Hadas Leah Avni, Nir Shvalb, Ariel Pokhojaev, Samuel Francis, Ruth Pelleg-Kallevag, Victoria Roul, Jean Jacques Hublin, Frank Rühli, Hila May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transition to bipedal locomotion was a fundamental milestone in human evolution. Consequently, the human skeleton underwent substantial morphological adaptations. These adaptations are responsible for many of today’s common physical impairments, including hip fractures. This study aims to reveal the morphological changes in the proximal femur, which increase the risk of intracapsular hip fractures in present-day populations. Our sample includes chimpanzees, early hominins, early Homo Neanderthals, as well as prehistoric and recent humans. Using Geometric Morphometric methods, we demonstrate differences in the proximal femur shape between hominids and populations that practiced different lifestyles. We show that the proximal femur morphology is a risk factor for intracapsular hip fracture independent of osteoporosis. Changes in the proximal femur, such as the shortening of the femoral neck and an increased anterolateral expansion of the greater trochanter, are associated with an increased risk for intracapsular hip fractures. We conclude that intracapsular hip fractures are a trade-off for efficient bipedal walking in humans, and their risk is exacerbated by reduced physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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